As 21st-century believers, we readily acknowledge that we have never walked with the earthly Jesus, but we have walked with those who witness His resurrected life and follow in His steps. Saint Paul calls us ‘ambassadors for Christ.’ When people ask what it means to be Christian, we can, without words, show them.
But realistically, we know that none of us perfectly image Christian virtue. Mahatma Gandhi once said that he had no problem with Christian virtue though he did have a problem with Christians. We deal with the paradox every day. And every day, we are reminded through Scripture and our Traditions in the confidence we have that God sent Jesus, Who never sinned, to bear on His shoulders our sin so that we might become righteous before God.
Ash Wednesday is the time we, as believers, enter into the desert of our hearts. We will, hopefully, encounter there our imperfections and our sins; the times when we were deceived into believing we were doing the right thing, when all the time we were just choosing the easy thing. We will rely on what the Church gives us and on Holy Scripture to lift us up onto the shoulders of Jesus Who comes to ‘make all things new;’ Who comes to set us free of our burdens and create in us ‘the new man,’ who will stand as righteous before the Face of God.